The intergenerational effects of a large wealth shock: White southerners after the civil war

Philipp Ager, Leah Boustan, Katherine Eriksson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The nullification of slave wealth after the US Civil War (1861-1865) was one of the largest episodes of wealth compression in history. We document that White Southern households that owned more slaves in 1860 lost substantially more wealth by 1870, relative to Southern households that had been equally wealthy before the war. Yet, their sons almost entirely recovered from this wealth shock by 1900, and their grandsons completely converged by 1940. Marriage networks and connections to other elite families may have aided in recovery, whereas transmission of entrepreneurship and skills appear less central.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3767-3794
Number of pages28
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Volume111
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics

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